16 Moments of Pride for LGBTQ Philanthropy

Monday, June 30, 2014

By Lyle Matthew Kan, Director of Communications and Education, Funders for LGBTQ Issues
This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post here.

While the work of the LGBTQ movement is far from done, Pride Month is a great opportunity for the LGBTQ community to reflect on just how far we've come in a relatively short period of time. Pride Month offers a chance to celebrate the LGBTQ community's collective contribution to advancing human rights for all, which has been undertaken by well-known individuals and organizations as well as individuals and organizations that have quietly worked to change hearts and minds in the most unlikely of places.

Somewhere between well-known and unknown fall the many foundations that have collectively invested more than a billion dollars to advance legal equality and improve the lives of LGBTQ people.

Some of the highlights of over four decades of LGBTQ philanthropy include:

  • 1970 - RESIST, a Massachusetts-based foundation founded in 1967 to support opposition to the Vietnam War, makes history by awarding the first LGBTQ grant to the Gay Liberation Front. Since 1970, RESIST has awarded over $350,000 to LGBTQ issues.
  • 1977 - The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is born in New York City, becoming the first LGBTQ public foundation. Over the course of nearly four decades, Astraea has invested $19 million in LGBTQ communities around the world.
  • 1982 - Horizons Foundation, the LGBTQ public foundation serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1980, awards the first known HIV/AIDS-related grant to the Kaposi's Sarcoma Research and Education Foundation, now known as San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
  • 1982 - Funders for LGBTQ Issues is founded by Katherine Acey and Michael Seltzer as the Working Group on Funding Lesbian and Gay Issues at the National Network of Grantmakers' annual conference.
  • 1987 - For the first time ever, annual foundation funding for LGBTQ issues passes the $1 million mark.
  • 1989 - The Mertz Gilmore Foundation issues the first grant to advance LGBTQ relationship recognition, awarding $10,000 to the ACLU for Northern California's Domestic Partnership Program, which aimed to "establish legal projection for lesbian and gay male relationships." To date, the Mertz Gillmore Foundation has invested nearly $12 million in LGBTQ communities.
  • 1990 - The Ford Foundation becomes the first U.S.-based foundation to make an international grant in support of LGBTQ issues by funding the Brazilian organization Atoba - the Homosexual Emancipation Movement. Over the years, the Ford Foundation has awarded close to $70 million to advance LGBTQ issues. In 2012, Ford announced a new LGBT Initiative to invest $50 million in LGBTQ communities over the course of 5 years.
  • 1993 - Funders for LGBTQ Issues - still known as the Working Group on Funding for Lesbian and Gay Issues - launches the National Lesbian and Gay Community Funding Partnership. The Partnership challenged community foundations across the country to establish LGBTQ field-of-interest funds with matching grants of up to $100,000. Over the 12 years of the Partnership, more than $9 million was invested to support LGBTQ work in local communities.
  • 1994 - Tim Gill launches the Gill Foundation, which has invested more than $80 million in LGBTQ Issues.
  • 1996 - The Paul Rapoport Foundation makes the first grant specifically targeting transgender issues by funding St. Roosevelt Hospital Center's Transgender Project.
  • 2000 - The Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund awards a seed grant to Evan Wolfson leading to the creation of Freedom to Marry. Over the years, foundations have invested more than $80 million in advancing LGBTQ relationship recognition and marriage equality.
  • 2000 - Jon Stryker launches the Arcus Foundation. The Arcus Foundation has a dual focus on LGBTQ rights and conservation of the Great Apes. To date, Arcus has awarded more than $100 million to LGBTQ issues.
  • 2002 - Ralph Alpert, Jim Johnson, and Weston Milliken found the Queer Youth Fund. Housed at Liberty Hill Foundation, the Queer Youth Fund has invested more than $4.6 million in innovative and effective leadership development and organizing projects that empower LGBTQ youth.
  • 2002 - For the first time, annual foundation funding for LGBTQ issues exceeds $50 million.
  • 2004 - The Civil Marriage Collaborative is created. As of 2014, the CMC, which is housed at Proteus Fund, has awarded approximately $17 million to advance marriage equality.
  • 2008 - For the first time, annual foundation funding for LGBTQ issues exceeds $100 million.
While LGBTQ philanthropy has grown a few thousand dollars in 1970 to over $120 million in 2012, it still accounts for a fraction of one percent of the approximately $50 billion U.S. foundations award annually. For every $100 dollars U.S. foundations award, LGBTQ issues receive 24 cents. 
So as we celebrate pride today, we know that tomorrow it's back to work.
All of these memorable moments and many more are chronicled in Funders for LGBTQ Issues report Forty Years of LGBTQ Philanthropy, 1970-2010, which was researched and written by Tony Bowen of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.